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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Obama and HIV

By Gary Bell

July 7, 2009

As with most things it's a good news, bad news scenario. Clearly, Obama is more in tune with the AIDS epidemic than his predecessor. He has proposed a budget increase for domestic HIV prevention and direct services. Moreover, his administration will soon launch Act Against AIDS, an ambitious five year social marketing campaign to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and encourage people to get tested. Sadly, however, his 2010 budget cuts funding to fight AIDS globally, cuts funding for federal AIDS housing, and fails to lift the federal ban on syringe exchange.

What people, including AIDS activists, need to realize is that he is playing with a shaky hand. Our nation is mired in the deepest recession in years, he is constantly under siege by the Republican party and he is trying desperately to hold onto a shaky coalition of "Blue Democrats," i.e., conservative Representatives from formerly Republican controlled states. He also has very ambitious plans for climate control and health care. So the question is: what are our expectations? I too, am a little disappointed but, I understand that he has to pick his battles right now.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Terry (North Carolina) Sun., Dec. 13, 2009 at 6:04 am EST
I was recently diagnosed, though on two separate occasions, doctors failed to even strongly consider that I could have been HIV positive, when I fit the bill as a mid-20's male worried about my status while experiencing acute HIV related symptoms that resembled strep throat). Several doctors brushed aside the possibility of HIV, even after blood was drawn (unrelated hospital visit) and my white count was noticably low. My point is this: WHY ARENT WE HEARING ANYTHING ABOUT HIV TESTING AS STANDARD PRECAUTIONARY CHECKS FOR HOSPITAL PATIENTS, ETC.? I don't buy the argument that it's invasive. Certainly discretion can be emphasized in any sort of attempt to screen large amounts of people even. Even though my view of this country gets worse as I get older, I still know that this is something we can and should do. I can imagine the first reason that would be given not to make tests more commonplace is the cost. Why aren't we working on decreasing the cost of HIV tests? Maybe I'm just ill informed on that front. I hope to god so. Because I see funding being cut left and right for anything HIV related, while yes, Obama pays lip service to what should be a moral imperative to this nation.
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Comment by: Dee (edison nj) Sun., Jul. 19, 2009 at 8:53 am EDT
HE HAS BEEN A MISERABLE FAILURE AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED 50 BILLION TO BAIL OUT COMPANIES NOT EVEN A BILLION TO HOUSE HIV+ PERSONS HOUSING ACTIVISTS BEING ARRESTED HE ENCOURAGES PERSONS TO GET TESTED AND IF THEY ARE + THERE IS NO HOUSING FOR THEM HE IS NOT COMMITED TO THE HIV COMMUNITY I WILL NOT VOTE FOR HIM AGAIN!
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Comment by: joe (newark nj) Fri., Jul. 10, 2009 at 9:52 am EDT
first give obama a chance, he stepped in a total mess.The problems that exist will take time to correct,it took 8 yrs to create.
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Comment by: Anonymous (Ohio) Fri., Jul. 10, 2009 at 5:14 am EDT
I agree with you, Steve. And the ignorance of the populace regarding HIV/AIDS and the fact that most are not just talking about that diagnosis, but the freefall the rest of our health issues take along with this. The average American does not realize that we are in a catch 22 where healthcare is concerned. Many employers will find a way to get rid of you if they notice the healthcare cost of keeping you on their payroll. And Americans do not realize that they are already paying for the uninsured/underinsured that is probably more than socialized medicine would cost. I don't know how anyone could foot a $4000 a month prescription drug bill with 4 or more doctor visits a month out of pocket. And what about catastrophic caps? We can't afford not to be in the "system" (Medicaid, social security, HOPWA, etc.) yet the "system" penalizes by keeping incomes in the poverty level justifying it by saying they are keeping us alive. Don't expect Obama or his cabinet to help. There seems to be a bit of ignorance and, dare I say it, discriminating attitudes toward HIV/AIDS in the US. It's great we've helped globally. Time to take care of the domestic issues - isn't this why everyone voted for Obama in the first place? 3 more years.
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Comment by: gary (shelburn falls,ma) Fri., Jul. 10, 2009 at 12:00 am EDT
I glad people who voted for him realize who he is now. I am a person who PWA but never vote him. I knew he is two face can not be trust.
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Comment by: Bill F (Minneapolis, MN) Thu., Jul. 9, 2009 at 10:08 am EDT
Obama is preparing to throw all of us under the Bus.

I urge you to read up on his Health Czar, Ezekial Emmanual. Rom Emmanuals brother.

I short, he believes in rationed health care, NOT quality health care for all.

And especially those who have terminal ill issues, and or diseases that COSTS are exorbitant in HIS opinion.

They talk about Cancer, old age, and a host of other inflictions that would prevent patents receiving quality care.

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Comment by: Teboho MOHLABI (Lesotho, Southern Africa) Thu., Jul. 9, 2009 at 2:27 am EDT
In as much as President Obama is an American President, he understands that unless the whole world is free, America cannot be truly free. We in Lesotho are very happy about the PEPFAR Program (that was started by Former President George Walker Bush we must acknowledge and be thankful). I think what you should be advocating for is for a good percentage of what B.O. has already earmarked for health to go towards the HIV response. You should also have research-based inteventions and highlight the plight of African Americans who are hardest hit by the epidemic.
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Comment by: david (kenya) Thu., Jul. 9, 2009 at 12:57 am EDT
I am a fan of Obama, but I find it interesting that Bush is labeled this monster with regards to his policys on HIV. In Kenya HIV meds were out of reach for most of the country because the average wage here is 30 US per month. Under the Bush administration, all meds were made free to any of us that needed and wanted them. For this I am forever greatful. Spending in other areas also increased and in fact Bush spent more cash in Africa than any other U.S. president. Obama has already cut this funding as you know and many people now fear that they will again loose the privilege of receiving their meds. One also needs to remember that under Clinton it became a crime to travel to the US. The only other nations to ban HIV positive people from travel are countries such as china and saudi arabia. It was Bush that began the process of removing this ban but Obama has yet to insure its full enactment. I have no idea of the domestic troubles people in the US face with regards to HIV but as far as Bush and Africa go, I believe he did an OK job. Obama has disappointed me as a positive person in that his words offer great hope, but his actions make me for the first time ever feel Bush was not after all an HIVers enemy at least for us here in Africa. As u say it is still early days, so fingers crossed!
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Comment by: steve e (west palm beach, FL) Wed., Jul. 8, 2009 at 11:43 pm EDT
We need to fight for public healthcare for ALL Americans. If insurnace were available and pre-existing conditions did not preclude affordable insurance many of the problems of PWAs with regard to healhcare would no longer be an issue. We need to fight together for this goal. We are the only developed country that does not have universal coverage. We already pay more than any other country on earth yet rank 37th according to the WHO. We are being ripped off and seem unaware of the fact.

It is not a matter of cost. It is a matter of public will.
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Transition to Hope


This year marks Bell's 14th as the executive director of the Philadelphia-based BEBASHI (Blacks Educating Blacks About Sexual Health), founded in 1985 as the nation's first AIDS organization serving African Americans with HIV. Bell has been widely praised, not only for increasing funding and accountability at a time when HIV donations have plummeted, but also for launching such innovative programs as a women's initiative, prison-discharge planning, and, most recently, a diabetes intervention.


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